By Kayleigh Rose Lewis
Fabienne, Michael and William have been putting the fun back into music.
We Were Evergreen are a wonderfully idiosyncratic French trio with a collection of unashamedly upbeat songs. As adorable as they are multi-talented, their infectious music is a mixture of layered vocal harmonies, little instruments and intelligent beats. Their unique style mixes many musical genres which, combined with enjoyable and assured live performances, has been winning listeners over everywhere they go.
This year they’ve been all over the UK, playing festivals and supporting both Charlie Simpson and the BBC Sound of Music tipped Michael Kiwanuka.
They’re ending the year with their own headline show at Borderline in London tonight (6 December). Brighton-Lite caught up with them to find out more.
So how did you guys meet?
Fabienne: We met in Paris five years ago, I met Michael in school and I met William in a music school. Michael showed me some stuff he made and I was like oh, he plays the piano so I can maybe join in. We did one rehearsal and then a month later we began to play and gig. We asked William to play some drums and he decided to join us.
Are you all from Paris?
Michael: She is from Paris and we are not. We are from provincial.
Me: Is that like saying no-where specific?
Michael: That is like saying everywhere outside of London. In France it is the same, anywhere outside of Paris is provincial. I am from the South East of France.
William: And I am from the South West, so we are a big triangle!
What do you all play?
Michael: I play guitar and I play the trumpet.
William: At the beginning I was a drummer but now I guess I do all the beats with a station and a loop pedal. I also play electric guitar and bass.
Fabienne: I play piano and glockenspiel, often at the same time.
Why do you often play little instruments?
Fabienne: Well I like the sound of it and often there were practical reasons. Like at the beginning we had a huge piano and I was not using every note. It was too heavy and we had so many small stages that we began to have the smaller keyboards. We eventually found it not just more interesting but more personal as well.
I’ve been listening to your We Were Evergreen EP for a little while now, are you planning on making anything new?
Michael: We have a new EP that we are selling at shows that is only a few months old. The other one is quite old; it’s been almost two years since we released it.
Is your new material quite different?
Fabienne: Not very different, but it has changed.
Michael: It corresponds more to what we do now, because I think the first one doesn’t exactly reflect what we do today. The first one is mostly too dated.
Fabienne: We were learning to record and everything and some stuff was done too fast and too quickly, in a rush.
Michael: It’s not really what we do now, I’m not saying that we do death-metal now, it’s not a huge difference. But I mean in terms of arrangements it’s quite different, we tried to take it further. The new one is a little closer to that.
Fabienne: This one has more and more harmonies, and I’m looking to maybe get another keyboard or change the glockenspiel. I’ll have to have a look around.
William: It has more beats too, we’ve been working on building up the songs
What are your musical influences?
Michael: It’s a tough question, we never know how to answer that.
William: We should answer: we don’t have any! When we try some melodies and when we try to change songs or arrange things, and when we’re composing we have our own ideas but maybe subconsciously it is coming from folk, classical, electro or jazz.
Michael: We listen to everything.
Fabienne: Well, we try to!
Why do you write your songs in English?
Michael: Lots of reasons really. One of them is that it was more natural for me, at first, to write in English. Not easier but it was more logical because basically my influences were English. I’d been listening to English speaking stuff all my life. I was always more looking towards England and the US more than what was going on in France, and that’s from my parents I guess.
Fabienne: He speaks very well and very fluent, for me it is not so natural to write in English because for me the first thing is in French whereas Michael can think in English.
Michael: So I write the lyrics of the songs and the raw part, and the arrangement and everything else is pretty much a group thing.
Do you enjoy playing in England?
Michael: We love it! We’ve been doing our first UK tour and we’ve been to some great places, Glasgow was really cool, The Cockpit [Leeds]…
Fabienne: Here! We really like Brighton,
Michael: Yeah, it’s like you’ve got the sea but then it’s like a little London, it’s really artistic. We’ve played the Great Escape and we did the Secret Garden Festival too which was really good.
Fabienne: It was cool, really cool. It was really good for new, small bands because there are a lot of small stages and places to discover, party and enjoy. It’s a really good atmosphere.
Michael: It’s one of the few festivals where you go there and you don’t really know who’s going to be playing, even in the brochure there’s so many things that you don’t understand who’s playing. But you go anyway because of all the fun and the creativity. There’s like stuff in the trees, there’s amazing little stages, pillow tents where you throw pillows at each other, there’s a dragonfly stage…
Fabienne: Who burns at the end.
Michael: Like the burning man.
Fabienne: We don’t know all the festivals in France but I don’t think there’s anything like it in France.
Michael: I’ve spoken to people in France and they don’t know of anything similar so I think it’s a really unique thing for the UK. We’ve also been to Wilderness, Greenman and they are also in a way special festivals in the sense that they sense that they are quite family orientated. They’re very casual, you go there and you can relax, you can sit in front of the stage, you don’t have to be packed in and stepped on.
Well finally, since you’re French, if you were a cheese what kind of cheese would you be?
William: She would not be the cheese, we could be the cheese and she’s going to be the red wine with the cheese!
Michael: She’s the classy bit!